On Friday evening, the much anticipated 6 Nations rugby internationals kick off, with Wales v England. Rugby fans are bracing themselves for the ordeal of a Friday night international match, with an 8pm kick-off and the logistical perfect storm that awaits them. Rugby aside simply getting to (and from) Cardiff on a Friday evening, with the lack of late trains may more than try fans patience.
If it’s going to be grim for Welsh Rugby fans, trying to come south or east from North and West Wales to get to Cardiff before kick-off then it’s going to be even grimmer afterwards when they try to get home. Bitter experience relayed by rugby fan have told me that the franchise holders will run short trains, by the time these trains reach Abergavenny, Pontypool, Cwmbran, Chepstow, Caldicot, Severn Tunnel Junction and Newport (not to mention Hereford, Lydney and Gloucester) they will be so full of people that passengers cannot board them.
Spare a thought for England fans, as the last London train leaves Cardiff before the game actually ends. Now much of the blame must lie with the 6 Nations organisers who once again have put profit before the interests of the fans and the game. Simply telling fans to go early, on a working day, on an evening (after work) with in some case little prospect of getting home at a sensible hour just won’t do. I seem to recall that Friday night games were only an experiment – clearly one that brings rich rewards to the Rugby authorities and immense inconvenience to the fans.
The usual old lame excuses are no doubt being rolled out by the franchise holders as to why there was no space, travel why the trains were short, etc. The real reason for the shoddy service is that it’s about profits, extra trains and extra carriages have to be rented and this hits profits and dividends. The day that the rail franchise (in Wales and the marches) is run as a not for dividend profit franchise cannot come soon enough.